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February 01, 2007 11:10 PM UTC

Taxi!

  • 17 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

There have already been a lot of interesting bills reach the legislature this session, some of which weren’t interesting in a good way.

Others are addressing issues that have been dormant for awhile, such as the extension of the “Make My Day” law and a bill that would deregulate the taxi cab companies.

The latter issue was the subject of a positive editorial by the Rocky Mountain News earlier this week:

Rep. Jerry Frangas, D-Denver, recalls one New Year’s Eve, when he and his wife were on the town, having no plans to drive home . . . and couldn’t find a cab for hire. The chilly walk to their hotel that followed convinced him (and his wife) that the current regulatory scheme wasn’t satisfying consumers.
So Frangas has introduced House Bill 1114, which would blow the bracing breezes of competition into Colorado’s taxicab marketplace. Aside from one small caveat – which we hope can be remedied as the bill moves forward – we enthusiastically support this legislation.

The bill would prevent the Public Utilities Commission from erecting roadblocks to would-be taxi operators, as it has for decades. The doctrine of “regulated competition,” which gave the PUC every opportunity to prevent new companies from offering taxi services in metro Denver and statewide, would be repealed from the statute governing “motor vehicles for hire.”

Instead, the law would state that “competition in the motor vehicle carrier industry will benefit Colorado consumers, making for greater choice and convenience.” HB 1114 would allow supply and demand to largely determine the number of hacks on the street.

How refreshing. It’s about time the consumer wound up in the driver’s seat.

While this hasn’t received much publicity, deregulating the taxi cab companies is an interesting approach that has drawn bipartisan support.

Republican Reps. David Balmer, Cory Gardner and Spencer Swann have been supportive of Frangas’ bill, which apparently caught the cab companies off guard.

The Denver Taxi Cab drivers formed an organization called ProTaxi and have been actively lobbying legislators for more than a year, and the bill has a good chance of making in through to the governor because it promotes business competition and helps minorities (the cab drivers are primarily naturalized citizens), while also offering an easy sell: There would be more taxis on the streets in Denver.

Comments

17 thoughts on “Taxi!

  1. The cab drivers have done a remarkable job gaining support.
    They have some of the most conservative Republicans liking the free market concepts. While some of the more liberal Democrats want to give the hard working drivers a fair shake.

  2. open up the market for more taxis, allow more small businesses to get started.  Then, in later years legislators will have an excuse to pass laws regulating them. 

    Job security.

      1. Deregulation, whether you like it or not, is one barn door that can’t be shut once it’s opened. The taxi companies will have to basically be an organized crime outfit before anyone would mount a serious effort to bring back regulation.

        Of course it’s possible that Car 31 was joking and that it went over my head.

        1. In many of the cities I’ve lived in overseas there are private taxis, minivans that take people on routes, and do a much better and more timely job than what we have here.

          One mishap though, one driver drunk, one pedestrian hit, legislators have an excuse to pass a law. There can be regulation and competition at the same time – as someone said below.

  3. As it works right now, at least here in Colorado Springs, you have to pay the taxi company a daily fee of almost $200 dollars to drive their cab.  You are responsible for cleaning the cab and keeping it full of gas.  Most cabbies have to put in a 12 hour day 6 days a week just to clear $400. 

    The reasons that Rep. Frangas probably couldn’t get a cab were first because there is a continuous shortage of drivers due to lousy working conditions.  Check the want ads in the newspapers, you can always tell the bad companies in the driving business, they always have ads.  The second reason is the lack of competition means lousy service.  As long as you can’t use someone else, not getting your business this time doesn’t really matter.

    De-regulation ideally should allow a lot of “independent” cabbies to be able to start up and force the existing companies to start giving better services at better prices.

    1. I used to work in security at a major downtown hotel.  I often spent time chatting with the cabbies, I learned a lot about the business.

      I’ve often thought of when I was growing up on Long Island in the fifties.  My friend Jason’s dad was a cab driver.  He was an employee, I’m sure.  Not this independent operator bullshit.  No, he didn’t make lots of money, the mom had to work, but it was all dignified.

      Dad was also a member of the volunteer fire department.  They would tell him of a fire or injury on his cabbie radio and go to the scene. 

      Now, they have to pay a fortune in rental and dispatch fees pay for all their gas.  The rental fee is cheaper by the week or month, so sometimes several guys will form a pool and rotate hours in the cab.  If the cab dies on the road, T.S., they could lose many hours before they get another one. 

      It’s a job that I sure wouldn’t want.

        1. I was commenting on the wage structure, then vs. now. 

          Taxi’s, courier companies (I was a motorcycle courier in LA for awhile), sales, and so many occupations have become unpaid jobs.  If things work out, you’ll make some money. If they don’t, tough  shit. 

          What employers do with these “jobs” is hire as many people as they can afford to.  That way they give great service to the customers, but the “employees” are in fact, competing with each other for a crumb. I realized that in the MC courier job, they would hire as many people as they had radios. 

          And then you wait, and wait….

          1. Those poor driver’s earn $5.00 a day when each ride is a minimum $4.00 to the rider.  To add insult to injury, our tour guide instructed us NOT to tip the cabbies, saying they they were already compensated, and then had the nerve to ask us each to tip the bus driver as we were exiting. Talk about a racket. I’ll never use that tour group again.

  4. gee, this appears to be a big colorado pols plug for one particular crappy bill.  could their be yet another ulterior motive here?  did anyone stop and think that maybe public safety should be major concern?  have you ever been in a deregulated taxi town and had the opportunity to ride in one of those deregulated death traps?  sorry charlie, basic background checks don’t put new brakes on the taxi…

    I’d rather wait a bit longer to hail a regulated taxi, and live, than step into one of those rolling safety violations and end up dead in a ditch.

     

    1. You can always call up one of the big companies or get a limo if you want.

      This is like Jon Caldara’s “jitney craze” a couple of years ago. He envisioned a sea of ordinary citizens bartering rides on craigslist, or something like that. (I guess craigslist wasn’t in existence yet.)

      About time that the taxi drivers get out from under the feudal enslaving conditions they’re currently under.

    2. This is a complete red herring argument: If it’s not regulated on a statewide level, it will be unsafe.  Talk about a non sequitor.  You can regulate safety while still allowing for competition and an open marketplace.

      Most places around the country regulate cabs locally.  New York cabs, for example, are extremely regulated – everything from the safety glass, to the fares, to a hotline to call if you think you’re being ripped off, to the little recorded “Hi, I’m Mayor Bloomberg” announcement that comes on when you close the door.  Yet because it is local, and because there is no barrier to entry other than meeting the safety requirements, there is an abundance of cabs in NYC.  Here in Colorado, the PUC takes “competition” into account when determining if there needs to be a new cab company.  Really?  Since when is government in charge of determining whether or not the marketplace can or can’t support a new company? 

      This is a monopolistic move by the existing cab companies.  The end result: fewer cabs and reduced service.

      Whew.  That was a bit of a vent.

      1. NYC limits how many cabs there are.  Every cab owner has a badge, which I recall is fastened to the hood or something.  Every badge is won in auction, the auctions being held as the NYC cab authorities deem needed to add cabs to serve the people.  Badges can be bought and sold, or handed down.  The last I heard, they badges went for something like $20,000 each.

        A major barrier to entry!

    3. that operates under the PUC is required to submit itself to inspection at any time.  This bill does not delete that requirement from cabs.  It merely prevents the PUC from trying to control the market when it comes to people trying to start their own companies. 

      My tow truck is required to stop at any DOT roadside inspection set up and let them go over it as thoroughly as they want.  Taxis are no different, just a seperate agency.

  5. This bill is a good move by Rep. Frangas in that it hits multiple constituencies.  Dems are allowed to stand up for the little guys in the form of naturalized immigrants who are currently working around the clock in order to make money.  At the same time, this bill can be painted as being pro-business and in fact promote safety.  Currently, the cabbies are working 12-16 hour days trying to cover the leasing fees to the 3 monopolistic cab companies that currently exceed $20,000 a year in Denver. 

    I looked over HB 07-1114, and it is definitely not a full deregulation.  It appears that the control that PUC has over the operation of cabs is still in effect, but only the huge barriers to entry are removed.  Under the old system, it appears that a new entrant in the market needed to prove not only that there was a public need for more cabs, but also that there was no possible way for the existing companies to serve the need.  Whether the existing companies ever met that need or had plans to serve it is irrelevant in the consideration of the application.  That makes very little sense to me.

    Pro-Taxi’s stealth team did a great job of getting key support before the big monopolies could move on them.  Getting this on the governor’s desk about the same time as the union bill would help Ritter stave off some of the criticism he will be taking from the business community.

    I’m curious who is doing Pro-Taxi’s lobbying.

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